The former Trabzonspor and Middlesbrough midfielder spent some of his teen years at Plateau United before his career blossomed in Europe
Former Nigerian international footballer John Mikel Obi has highlighted the impressive organisational structure that sets the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) apart from its counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa, Soccernet.ng reports.
Mikel Obi, who enjoyed 11 trophy-laden years at Chelsea and won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles, has pointed out the key factors that elevate the South African league’s status.
“I think it’s not the mentality; it’s your organization. Your organization is better than our organization,” Mikel told Soccer Laduma, as per Ghanaian journalist Sannie Daara.
“If you look at the South African League, it is that good where a player doesn’t have to go abroad to make ends meet to help his family.
“It is something we (Nigerian) have been crying out; we want to see our league better, and we know we can get there.”
Mikel spent two of his teen years with Plateau United before he moved to Europe to begin his illustrious professional career.
Not much has changed from his time in the Nigerian league and the present, and while reflecting on the significant disparity between the PSL and the NPFL, Mikel Obi noted,
“Because we have so much talent. We want to grow and improve the standard of our league. The facilities for these players to go and the younger ones who aspire to play in the Premier League.
“We have to create an environment where they feel comfortable to improve, and that is something the (South Africans) have, and that is pretty much the difference.”
The South African Premier Soccer League, featuring 16 clubs competing from August to May annually, has secured its place as one of the top five leagues in Africa.
The league boasts one of the largest television rights deals with SuperSports, enabling it to generate an impressive $72 million in revenue each year.
Mikel Obi’s insights come from a place of deep experience and success in the sport.
During his time at Chelsea, he clinched the prestigious UEFA Champions League in the 2011/12 season and the UEFA Europa League in the 2012/13 season.
At the national level, he led Nigeria to victory in the 2013 AFCON, securing third place in the 2006, 2010, and 2019 editions. His stellar international career spans 91 appearances and six goals for the Super Eagles from 2005 to 2019.